Sunday, September 16, 2012

UK Basic rulebook cover original art

Original art by John Blanche for the cover of the UK Holmes Basic rulebook, from Tome of Treasures

     While working on yesterday's post I was reminded that the original cover art by John Blanche for the UK Holmes Basic rulebook still exists and is owned by the burntwire brothers, two longtime Acaeum members and top collectors with a you've-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it game room. They've done a nice job of sharing their art collection via photos  available in the Acaeum Artwork Museum, Tome of Treasures Gallery of Original Paintings and Drawings (where I grabbed the above screenshot) and their photo gallery on the Illustration Exchange. Most of their collection is of more recent art; it's actually amazing that D&D art this old (1977) has been preserved. TSR disposed of a lot of early original art, but the UK version of the rulebook was published by Games Workshop under license from TSR. The burntwire brothers wrote in 2006 that they acquired the art from "a well known game designer in England" and that "when we heard it was available we had to have it. It is kind of cool owning the cover art to the first non-US Dungeons & Dragons product".

     The ToT entry describes the art as being 7.5 by 9.5 inches, ink on heavy art board. The composition echoes the original Sutherland artwork, containing similar elements of dragon, treasure hoard, wizard with wand, warrior and archway, though from a different perspective. In this regard it is similar to the interior artwork, much of which is even more straight-forward re-drawings of the original art by Fangorn (Christopher Baker).


  1. Was that actually used on the cover? I have no recollection of ever seeing that art on the cover of a rule book in the UK.

    (Oh, and thanks for the article about Heroes yesterday, I've ordered my copy already! Mainly for nostalgia as my original copy wnet during one of the great gaming purges of my 30s)

    1. You're welcome, Tim.

      The John Blanche artwork was indeed used on the Basic rulebook cover, but only for the early printings in 1977/78, which were rulebook only. For unknown reasons they reverted to using all of the US artwork for the third print (Nov 1978), which was a boxed set. You can see the various UK printings at the Acaeum on this page.

  2. The cover is bloody hard to scan because it's metallic, so it's good to see the original, thanks Z.